State v. Gomez, A-1-CA-39592

Case DateNovember 22, 2022
CourtCourt of Appeals of New Mexico

STATE OF NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff-Appellee,

EDDIE GOMEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

No. A-1-CA-39592

Court of Appeals of New Mexico

November 22, 2022

Corrections to this opinion/decision not affecting the outcome, at the Court's discretion, can occur up to the time of publication with NM Compilation Commission. The Court will ensure that the electronic version of this opinion/decision is updated accordingly in Odyssey.


Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General Santa Fe, NM Meryl E. Francolini, Assistant Attorney General Albuquerque, NM for Appellee

Patrick J. Martinez &Associates Patrick J. Martinez Albuquerque, NM for Appellant



{¶1} Defendant Eddie Gomez appeals his metropolitan court bench trial conviction of aggravated driving under the influence (DWI) (first offense), contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 66-8-102(D)(1) (2016). Defendant argues that the State provided


insufficient evidence to establish an overlap between Defendant's driving and his impairment. We affirm.


{¶2} On February 26, 2020, at about 2:19 a.m., Officer Brown was dispatched to investigate a vehicle being driven with broken windows and flat tires. Officer Brown arrived at the scene about seven minutes after dispatch and located the vehicle, which was parked, but no one was inside. Officer Brown then made contact with Defendant and his girlfriend who were 50 to 100 yards away from the vehicle. Defendant initially ignored Officer Brown. When Defendant finally spoke, Officer Brown testified it was with heavily slurred speech and that Defendant smelled strongly of alcohol. Defendant first told Officer Brown that his girlfriend drove the vehicle, but then admitted having driven the vehicle himself to the parking lot where it was located. Defendant also admitted to consuming three or four alcoholic drinks within the previous two hours. Defendant failed multiple field sobriety tests and was arrested for driving under the influence. Officer Brown testified that his decision to arrest Defendant was based on Defendant's admission to driving the vehicle, his possession of the vehicle's keys, his admission that he had been drinking, and his poor performance on the field sobriety tests. Defendant submitted to a breath alcohol test at 3:13 a.m., which showed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17.



{¶3} Defendant contends that Officer Brown's testimony failed to establish a timeline of events sufficient to connect his intoxication and driving. As a result, Defendant argues, the evidence that he drove while impaired is impermissibly speculative. We disagree.

{¶4} When reviewing for sufficiency, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, then determine "whether the evidence viewed in this manner could justify a finding by any rational trier of fact that each element of the crime charged has been established beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Trossman, 2009-NMSC-034, ¶ 16, 146 N.M. 462, 212 P.3d 350 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). We "indulg[e] all reasonable inferences and resolv[e] all conflicts in the evidence in favor of the verdict." State v. Chavez, 2009-NMSC-035, ¶ 11, 146 N.M. 434, 211 P.3d 891 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). In reviewing for sufficiency, "[t]he reviewing court does not weigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the fact[-]finder as long as there is sufficient evidence to support the verdict." Id. (alteration, internal quotation marks, and citation omitted).

{¶5} Circumstantial evidence alone may be sufficient to allow a trier of fact to infer that the accused drove while impaired. See State v. Mailman, 2010-NMSC-036, ¶ 28, 148 N.M. 702, 242 P.3d 269 (holding that actual physical control of the vehicle...

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